Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Back in the medieval times, if a hapless fellow was perceived as a wrong-doer and was being pursued by an angry mob, he could find safety by running into a church. He would automatically be given sanctuary – asylum – no one could enter and harm him. Perhaps this is how the word “sanctuary” got associated with a house of worship.

A modern-day version of sanctuary would be a foreign embassy. If the good or bad guy being chased by local authorities could get into the embassy, he was untouchable.


Sanctuary is not limited to people. Many countries have created wildlife sanctuaries to keep almost extinct animals safe from hunters or poachers; it’s also a safe place where injured or young orphaned animals can recover or be cared for until they can competently live in the wild.

Yet as Jews, sanctuary can be experienced beyond physical protection or relief. The Jewish people have been blessed with life-affirming, mental/emotional sanctuary. We are emphatically reminded and exhorted to develop unwavering emunah that Hashem is the master of the universe, who totally controls all the events we experience.

With that solid belief, we are protected and unburdened from self-incrimination, guilt, torturous feelings of inadequacy and deep regret and chagrin over aspects of our lives that didn’t quite pan out the way we thought they would. By having unequivocal emunah, we are gifted with emotional sanctuary – peace of mind – knowing that Hashem is in the driver’s seat, we are His trusting passengers, and that when looking back at the twists and turns on our life’s journey, we will be able to say, gam zu l’tova.

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